Archived News | Return to News Center

July 11, 2003

ULM Graduate Joins Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil has been described as a theatrical adventure unlike anything you have ever experienced. "Cirque du Soleil" translated from French means "Circus of the Sun." However, Cirque is anything but a traditional circus. It is a combustible combination of circus and theatrical presentation combining elements of modern dance, staging, humor, music, and acrobatic stunts. The experience of a Cirque Du Soleil live performance is said to be intriguing, thought provoking, enchanting and mesmerizing.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe congratulates alum Aaron Guidry for landing a drumming role in one of these spectacular shows. Guidry, from West Monroe, received his Bachelor of Music Education degree at NLU in 1996.

Guidry is the percussionist and taiko soloist for the Cirque du Soleil show Mystère at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. The show is performed Fri.-Tues. at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Mystère is one of 8 shows currently running by Cirque Du Soleil.

According to the Cirque du Soleil website, "Mystère takes the audience on a metaphorical journey that starts at the beginning of time (symbolized by a powerful opening of Japanese Taiko drums) and continues with a blend of music, dance and stunning athleticism. Mystère's international cast delivers a mystical trip through life with a few detours through the impossible in a state-of-the-art theatre."

Aaron has spent many years in preparation for his role in Mystère, a role he had no idea he was preparing for. Ever since he began playing drums in 6th grade, he knew he would one day want to be a performer.

He attributes his success to his musically talented father, his faithful mother, who took him to countless performances and practices growing up, and his teachers.

One teacher in particular, Larry Anderson, ULM Associate Professor in the School of Music and Dance, was a tremendous influence on him.

"The music faculty gave me the musical foundation that I still use today. Mr. Anderson also provided me the opportunity to arrange for the Sound of Today Drumline, which molded my composition skills," said Guidry.

Guidry is an accomplished composer, performer, and teacher. While still in high school, Guidry took private lessons every week, and with a new teacher, Larry Anderson, in 9th grade, was taught the rudiments of snare drumming, reading music, and scales on marimba, just to name a few. Guidry credits Anderson with helping him prepare for various auditions and contests and ultimately his choice to attend NLU.

"Aaron Guidry is extremely self motivated in his pursuit of excellence. I had the pleasure of teaching Aaron over an eight-year period throughout high school and college, and his abilities have always been astounding. I am not surprised by his accomplishments, and I am sure he will have continued success. I have been fortunate to work with many great students at ULM and Aaron certainly deserves special recognition," said Anderson.

Guidry sent in an audition tape to Cirque du Soliel for a shot at being one of their drummers. Four months and one live audition in Las Vegas later, he got the part.

Aaron says being a part of Mystère is the result of years of hard work and many people believing in him.

"This is a great opportunity, and I attribute my winning the audition to all my musical experiences from sixth grade until now. My dad introduced me to drumming and taught me the importance of finishing what you start, a very important quality for a dedicated musician. Mr. Anderson put me in positions of leadership and authority, which allowed me to grow as a performer and a teacher. And, let's not forget my mom telling me 'It's okay to feel afraid, just don't let it stand in your way.' I've gone for a few things, and have been lucky enough to get them," said Guidry.

Aaron had known about Cirque for years. His mother, Penni Guidry, had seen a live show of Mystère in Las Vegas years ago and had bought the CD. Aaron remembers using the CD as a listening exercise for his students while he was student teaching. Little did he know that down the road he would be performing it.

While on full scholarship at NLU, Guidry participated in all the performing opportunities he could: Marching Band, Steel Band, African Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble, Basketball Pep Band, and anything else that was available. His relationship with Anderson continued to be fruitful as Aaron said he was always learning as much as he could about drumming.

In the years to come Guidry attended the Percussive Arts Society International Convention and competed with an original rudimental snare drum solo that Anderson helped him create. He placed 2nd. Yet, he says it was such a positive experience because the outcome resulted in his first composition being published.

After ULM, Guidry attended West Virginia University to get a Master of Music Performance degree. While at WVU, he was exposed to more musical opportunities: steel drumming, traditional African drumming, African dance, Taiko drumming from Japan and gamelan from Indonesia.

In 1997, he traveled to Ghana, West Africa with his teacher at the time and other students. There he learned so many different aspects of drumming and he says his eyes were opened to a whole new world.

In 1998, Guidry moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he taught in public schools. While teaching, he was also composing. His composing led him again to Ghana in 2000 to learn more about their music.

After teaching for three years, Guidry was ready to start performing again. "I had heard about a group called "Blast" from different friends. Basically, "Blast" is a marching band on crack! There is movement, motion, color, lighting, stage's a new form of live theater. I figured it would be a validation of all the marching bands I had been involved with, especially at NLU," said Guidry.

"Some people continue to play their instrument, but rarely is there a performance opportunity where a qualification is marching band experience! So, I sent an audition tape to the producers and was hired a few months later in 2001. My first thing to put on the video was my snare drum solo from 1995 that Mr. Anderson helped mold. I attribute my selection for the show to that solo. Additionally, I was a featured performer with "Blast." I was with the U.S. touring cast for about a year, and performed my snare drum solo nightly. It was a great experience...all alone on stage...just me and my drum. Sometimes before going out on stage I would think about my days at NLU and the things I learned. I would also mentally thank my mom for driving me to private lessons all those years. I felt like it had really paid off. I was actually getting paid to play a snare drum!!"

Guidry can be seen onstage in Vegas performing Mystère now.

If you would like more information on the show, you can visit

Find this and other ULM News at\

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.